Connection Creates Confidence

I work with a lot of riders who lack confidence. Having broken my own back in a fall in 2004, I knows the track back to riding confidence very well.

One such student was Claire Waldron back in Spring 2015. Claire is now a CT Instructor and is setting up the new Connection Training Centre, but at that time she was one of our online students.

She was riding confidently in the arena but, when she took Segura out, they would lose their connection and Segura became unstoppable.

This film is the lesson I gave her out in Spain. You’ll see that the pair went from distraction and disconnection to being wonderfully together. All the steps were in place, so in just 45 minutes, Claire was back to safe, confident hacking.

If you lack confidence, watch this to see how building connection on the ground is the first step in motivating your horse to pay attention to your aids. From there, it’s just a step-by-step process to riding confidence!

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7 thoughts on “Connection Creates Confidence”

  1. Really like this! Had the problem and corrected it the same way, but this takes it a little further. (Always more to learn!) Much appreciated. And legitimizes the use of treats/rewards that others sometimes disparage!

  2. Very useful video. I lost my confidence after falling off and breaking my collar bone. My confidence is comming back but my horse still doesn’t listen to me. I get my mom to hold the lunge line and I go round in circles in the walk. Suddenly he forgets me and walks off in another direction and as you say he is bolting in the walk. He won’t listen to me. He just goes where he wants. That is where my mom comes in and stops him. I am practicing going round in a circle then coming to the middle and stopping. I am still too scared to lean over and feed him from the saddle.

    2 days ago I was bitten hard on the arm by my horse in the stable. I was trying to teach him to lift his leg.
    Very disappointed especially as friends were watching. How can I defend a method where I get bitten. ? Anyway yesterday, for the first time, he was really paying attention to me when I rode him. The learning process is so odd. He knew I was cross and started to listen to me.
    I shall just have to go back to square 1 where I teach him not too get excited about food.
    If I use no food he doesn’t pay attention to me and if I use hay he won’t eat it. What I need is an iron glove so that I only open my hand with the food when he is calm !

  3. Oh, Emilie, I’m really sorry to read about your loss of confidence and getting bitten. If you get “punished” like that during training, of course you aren’t going to feel good about continuing on. (I guess this is another lesson for us humans about how positive punishment is de-motivating.) It’s like your horse is training you to not want to work with him!

    I too have had a horse that got nippy around food, years ago when I first tried to clicker train a horse, before I came across CT and Shawna. I just ended up dropping the clicker entirely, not knowing how to fix it. If he got one treat, he would mug and nip for a month, it seemed! You can understand why many equestrians don’t approve of food treats.

    But you’re here now, and there are lots of possible answers for your horse here, I think. Many of us have been through this, and realized we had to start all over again to get calm and manners around food. I also know what it feels like to have others watching when things go badly. We tend to feel ashamed and frustrated, and that’s another kind of self-punishment. Which doesn’t do you or your horse or anyone any good!

    Square 1 is an opportunity. How about dropping the treats into a bucket instead of giving them by hand?
    You mention an “iron glove” which suggests to me your horse is a “shark” with treats–grabby and using his teeth. And he’s proved you aren’t safe right now by biting. So as Rachel and Shawna suggest, perhaps do the calming work from outside stall or fence.

    You might consider that you yourself are “over threshold” when you’re feeling scared or cross. Your horse doesn’t learn well that way, and we humans don’t either. Is there a way you can break down things for yourself too? Can you think of going back to square 1 as good for you too, as you gain confidence by starting over?

    The Foundation Course is really good and worth watching or reviewing. I think the videos in Module 4, Emotions in Practice, especially Units 3, Impulse and Emotional Control, 4-Targeting For Emotional Balance, and Unit 5- Relaxation and Motivation would be especially helpful for you!

    Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. We all have this sort of challenge, where we feel as if we’re stuck and getting nowhere. But what if you go back to the beginning and find out how soft and happy you and your horse can both be with simple things? That’s huge.

    Hope you’ll keep us updated on where you start and how it feels! I’m sure Rachel and Shawna and Hannah may have more specific advice, but I just wanted to say I admire you for realizing that sometimes the best thing is going back.

  4. Emilie I have just gone back to basics with my horse and in 4 short sessions (ok the first was an hour and a half the second an hour!) sessions 3+4 were much shorter and happier! Today I sat with my horse in the hay while he was loose and saw no mugging behaviour at all. It was perfect. It just takes a bit of time. It’s all in my training diary. Good luck, it won’t take too much to turn things around.

  5. Hi Everybody,

    How nice of you all to encourage me so and Rebekah I love your training dairy.

    I fell off when my 5 yrs old bolted 18 months ago. It is such a pity I didn’t know about connection training before or I wouldn’t have fallen off, (I would have known how to deal with his fear). And he was getting so good too, doing shoulder in and stuff.

    I am progressing very very slowly but I am getting so much better in my mind. That is so encouraging, in fact it is almost exciting. I still have a dread of climbing on but I am beginning to enjoy it a little bit !

    My horse is now 7 and I am keeping him fit on the lunge line. (He lives in a field)
    I have gone back to stage one and worked on the food problem. He now has the most lovely, smiley face. (Took me 2 hours). I wanted the iron glove to be able to hold the food out with my hand closed and wait till he stopped trying to chew me and then open my hand.

    I have a question.
    I walk around with my mom on the lunge line turning her back on us, and I slalom like a skier between the poles. My horse is really listening now. Then suddenly he stops and won’t go forward. He’s still listening but he won’t go forward. He wants my mom to feed him.

    Should I get off and do some ground work and then get on again. ? What do you think ?

  6. Thank you Claire and Rachel for this video.
    I now use getting off and lifting their leg on all my horses. It’s just wonderful. For me it brings the “play ” back into the session a lot more than head down.
    Now, after a year, I can canter round off the lunge line since I have practiced like this. The next step is to walk around on the lunge line in other places. Then at last I shall be able to ride my horse like I did before I fell off.

    1. Hannah Weston

      Hi Emilie, that’s fantastic!! Well done for persevering at the right pace for you and your horse 🙂 Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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